Compulsive eating: A growing problem in Mexico

According to UNAM specialists, more than 72% of Mexicans is overweight or obese
Compulsive eating: A growing problem in Mexico
When in the presence of other people, compulsive eaters eat very little to avoid suspicion, but in solitude, they incur in binge-eating which makes them feel guilty over their lack of self control - Photo: File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
20/10/2018
19:19
Newsroom
Mexico City
Teresa Moreno
-A +A

The prevalence of compulsive eating or binge-eating is increasing in Mexico, according to specialists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). The prevalence of overweight and obese adults over the age of 20 was of 71.28% in 2012. In 2016, the rate grew to 72.5%.

“If we take the aforementioned figures as reference, we could assume that the prevalence of compulsive eating is also on the rise,” said the investigator Cecilia Silva Gutiérrez, a scholar at UNAM’s Faculty of Psychology.

The age range of compulsive eaters has grown considerably. A few years ago, binge-eating was most common among teenagers and young adults, but now younger people and the elderly are presenting the same problem.

“We know that there are personal, social, cognitive, and neurological factors that can contribute to an emotional dysregulation which in turn produces discomfort and anxiety. Some individuals seek to regulate their instability through food, which provides momentary sensations of tranquility, satisfaction, and well-being. However, their behavior causes them to feel guilty, thus elevating frustration. This is how compulsive eating becomes a vicious cycle,” she explained.

This type of conduct is considered to be an eating disorder. When in the presence of other people, compulsive eaters eat very little to avoid suspicion, but in solitude, they incur in binge-eating which makes them feel guilty over their lack of self control, and ashamed of gaining more body weight.

Unlike other disorders such as bulimia, in which patients also have food binges, the compulsive eater doesn’t resort to compensatory solutions such as self-induced vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, enemas, prolonged fasting, or excessive exercise.

It is important that the population learns about this subject. Eating disorders represent a serious health problem that is not easy to deal with, given the patients’ lack of self-control.

“To achieve an accurate diagnosis, the specialist must be sensitive and knowledgable enough to tell whether a person with obesity shows signs of compulsive eating or not so that he or she can provide a proper treatment. Compulsive eating is often treated with psychotherapy, although anxiety levels in some patients may also require medication for an efficient modification of conduct.”
 

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